A second lawsuit has been filed by parents of another victim at Hidden Valley Elementary school, this time naming the former education assistant, the Yukon government and the RCMP as defendants.
The lawsuit was filed Oct. 1 on behalf of a student at the school and also includes his guardians. Identifying details from the case are under a publication ban in order to protect the victim’s privacy.
In addition to naming former education assistant William Auclair-Bellemare as responsible, the lawsuit also claims the Yukon government and the RCMP failed in their duty to protect the student.
The statement of claim alleges that Auclair-Bellemare used his position of authority to manipulate the student into sexual touching, sexual assault and emotional abuse over the course of the school year in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“The actions and conduct of the defendant William Auclair-Bellemare constitute the intentional infliction of mental distress on the plaintiffs,” reads the document, which resulted in “severe and lasting physical and emotional injuries to the plaintiffs.”
The parents also claim that the department did not properly vet Auclair-Bellemare, including conducting an adequate background check on him, and should have been aware of past complaints and incidents of abuse.
The statement of claim says that the department chose “to assist and protect the defendent William Auclair-Bellemare and his position and reputation rather than the plaintiffs when Yukon, through the Yukon Staff, became aware or ought to have become aware of the Past Incidents, Complaints, Predation and eventually the Sexual Abuse.”
In addition to not properly vetting their staff before hiring, the lawsuit also takes issue with the fact that the government did not inform parents of Auclair-Bellemare’s investigation, firing and eventual conviction in 2019.
The parents want the government held responsible for “failing to take any reasonable steps to assist the Plaintiffs to process and recover from the impacts of the Predation.”
The lawsuit also addresses the actions of the RCMP. Over the course of their original investigation into the sexual abuse of one student at Hidden Valley the force never attempted to identify any other possible victims. On Sept. 10 the RCMP laid seven new charges on behalf of two additional potential victims.
Chief Superintendent Scott Sheppard acknowledged publicly on Sept. 23 that “we should have been more diligent” and the case is now being reviewed by the force.
In the latest civil lawsuit, the parents claim that the RCMP had a duty of care to take “reasonable steps to investigate allegations of sexual predation and sexual assault against children.”
They allege the failure to further investigate Auclair-Bellemare breached their child’s Charter rights to security of person.
Among the impacts on the family for which they are seeking damages, the suit names emotional impacts, loss of self-esteem, humiliation and embarrassment, a reduced ability to complete an educational program and a “loss of trust and the ability to form healthy emotional relationships and attachments with others.”
The family has also suffered financial losses, including the cost of medical services and counselling now and in the future and loss of income from the fallout of the incident.
None of the allegations within the lawsuit have been tested in court.
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org